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Joshua
Joshua, Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 25358
Experience:  LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice
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My girlfriend rented a unit which she ran a hairdressing business

Resolved Question:

My girlfriend rented a unit which she ran a hairdressing business from. She had no contract for the unit it was just a verbal agreement between herself and the unit owner. She didn't have a set rent and it was agreed that she would pay 50% of the gross takings, which would cover rent and utility bills. Every week she would pay this and be issued with a receipt. She does have a letter saying that this is the agreement. The owner of the unit asked her to leave, as he said it wasn't working out. She had been there for around 18 months. She agreed and asked to be given to the end of the week to clear her stuff out. She part cleared some of her belongings the following day. When she went the next day the locks had been changed. The unit still contains some of her belongings and as of yet access has been denied to collect these items. She has now been issued with a letter from the owner requesting 4 weeks rent at £100 a week totalling £400 to be paid immediately. She has one week outstanding which does not total £100. She only ran the business part time and obviously as she was giving 50% of her takings this differed from week to week, and very rarely did it go above £100, she is still in possession of receipts which prove this. Where does she stand as regards XXXXX XXXXX her belongings and having to pay this demand for money
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Joshua replied 2 years ago.

Joshua :

Hello and thank you for your question. I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practicing lawyer in England with over 10 years experience.

Joshua :

May I ask if your girlfrend had exclusive occupation of the unit during her time there please or did she share possession with the landlord - i.e. she just rented a space in the unit alongside the landlord?

Customer:

The unit was a separate unit, it was a converted construction site cabin. She had sole occupancy, the unit was owned by him, and situated on land owned by a social club, which he was secretary of. The rent was paid directly to him, not to the club as he owned the unit and the club received no rent for his unit being on the land.

Joshua :

Thanks. Does she still hold the receipts for rent?

Joshua :

Did she give written acceptance of vacating?

Customer:

She still has the receipts for everything she has paid in rent. As I said this differs from week to week, unfortunately she doesn't have any proof of how much she took other than her handwritten diary as she didn't have a till. She never gave written acceptance of vacating, just verbally said she would and she would get her belongings out by the Friday after she was told.

Joshua :

thank you. Based on these facts, as your girlfriend had sole occupation of the premises and use them for a business and has evidence of payment of rent, and was not in the process of negotiating for a formal lease, the law will imply your girlfriend the benefit of a full business lease even in the absence of any written documentation

Joshua :

not only does the law comply a business lease but also security of tenure on the part of your girlfriend under part two of the landlord and tenant act. Accordingly, if she wishes to remain, the landlord would appear to have carried out an illegal eviction from which you can claim damages. Is remaining something she would wish to consider?

Customer:

I don't think remaining there is an option. She is feeling intimidated and worried because he's demanding money, can he actually demand this £400?

Joshua :

thanks. do you know the basis of the landlord is claiming four weeks rent please? Is he claiming that she did not pay for part of the period she was an occupation was he claiming that she should have given him notice?

Customer:

I don't know what basis, he has put rent arrears of 4 weeks, She was away one week, which obviously at 50 % of the takings is nothing when she didn't earn anything herself. There has never been a discussion that she had to pay any rent if she was off work, I don't know if this makes a difference. And she has not paid for the final week, this was the week where she was told on the Sunday to leave, she was told it was ok to have the rest of the week to clear her stuff out but the locks were changed on the Tuesday. She didn't give him notice as it was his decision to ask her to leave.

Customer:

There is receipts for payment for all other weeks

Joshua :

thank you. The appropriate way forward for your girlfriend is based upon what you say would appear to be her writing to the landlord advising him that she was in possession of an implied commercial lease in respect of the premises and the landlord has failed to supply her with a section 25 notice in order to terminate her tenancy and accordingly, she will claim he has carried out an unlawful eviction for which she reserves her position entirely. In addition, she will claim that the landlord is unlawfully distraining her goods and that the landlord is to return her goods within seven days failing which your girlfriend will consider issuing proceedings against him both for the value of the goods he is unlawfully distraining and also claim damages for an unlawful eviction to include loss of profit. She may suggest to the landlord that he immediately seeks legal advice in the event that he does not immediately return her goods so that he can be fully advised as to his position

Joshua :

because of the arrangement, as above, the law implies a commercial lease on the basis of your girlfriend having sole occupation of the premises and accordingly, the landlord is required to provide six months notice in order to terminate her tenancy and in fact, your girlfriend could if she wished sustain her tenancy as she will have protection and security of tenure and a part two of the landlord and tenant act based on the above facts. accordingly, she can place the landlord in a potentially very difficult situation whereby she can claim for unlawful eviction for loss of profit and the value of goods he is unlawfully distraining.

Joshua :

if he does not respond positively, your girlfriend can issue proceedings against the landlord in the County court. The simplest way to do so is by using www.moneyclaim.gov.uk. she can claim the value of the goods in question and also seek damages for unlawful eviction and loss of profit providing she can demonstrate solid occupation and rent being paid

Joshua :

* demonstrate sole occupation and rent being paid.

Joshua :

my apologies for the typo.

Joshua :

Is there anything above I can clarify for you?

Customer:

Does he have any right to ask for the £400? And can she just not pay it

Joshua :

based on what you have said, there does not appear to be a basis for asking for £400. He would need to specifically point to a contractual right to such money and from the facts as you state them, he has failed to do so or indeed offer any particular explanation at all for his request. If he wishes to try to claim such money, It is for him to produce evidence to support his claim not your girlfriend to prove that he has no right

Joshua :

is there anything else I can help you with?

Customer:

Does it matter that she agreed to a week notice to get her stuff out, but this was cut short due to the locks being changed

Joshua :

her claim if she chooses to pursue it would be best served had she not agreed to vacate at all. Presumably, if everything was agreed only verbally, it may be that on reflection, she finds that she did not agree with him that she would vacate and accordingly has a claim for unlawful eviction against the landlord. this would place her in a strong position with regards XXXXX XXXXX landlord in terms of the potential to claim damages from him

Joshua :

having given the matter further reflection, your girlfriend concludes that she did agree verbally to vacate, they this would reduce her rights in respect of her potential claim for unlawful eviction, if one weeks notice was agreed and not honoured by the landlord, this still constitutes an unlawful eviction albeit with a reduce potential for damages.

Joshua :

Does the above answer all your questions or is there anything I can clarify or help you with any further?

Customer:

Yes I think this covers everything. Thank you.

Joshua, Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 25358
Experience: LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice
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